Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Moulding minds

In a small sleepy village, you learn a lot by looking.  You learn by going up on the terrace of the house and observing.  By peering out of the gates and seeing what takes place on the road.

One thing is clear.  Everyone values education.  And they will do whatever it takes to get schooled.  The road outside Amma and Appa’s home sees hardly a vehicle pass – other than the odd motorcycle.  But the one vehicle that does pass the gate regularly is a yellow school bus.  Regularly.

On the morning of Christmas eve, a look out the gate showed a group of kids on bicycles, having a good time:

 But we also saw plenty of kids going to school -  or tuition.

Its not enough to go to classes in the school - either the government or private schools.  Almost every child also is enrolled in group coaching classes that take place after (or before) school.  
As I watched the procession of kids walk by I saw a small group of boys stop.  One of them opened his school bag.   With his two friends they took out some eatables  - it looked like puffed rice – and happily dug into it. Going to school has its small joys.  Friends and food are always welcome.

Our own boy is very much on holiday.  Other than a small set of worksheets that his school sent us by email (!) Enoch is busy reading, playing, and exploring his Ammamma and Thatha's home - and yes there is also time to watch the odd India-England T20 cricket match ... and yes any movie DVD that his parents allow him.

It looks like Enoch is very much a minority.

At the love feast after church on Sunday I sat between two young men.  The young man on my right was a visitor whose uncle lives in town.  He works as a government teacher in a tribal area of Andhra Pradesh – 170 kms away from here.  He is grateful that he can teach in Telegu medium – and his students come from various tribal communities.  The young man on my left is a local boy.  He has finished his engineering studies and is seeking a job.  In the meantime he is teaching at a coaching institute.  And runs tuitions at home as well.  I asked him if he had an email id.  He said he did not have time for it. 

Lets take a look and see what we can spy from the roof of Ammamma and Thatha's house.

Join Enoch as he goes up the steps.

Tuitions are a huge industry. 

From the roof you just have to cast your glance to a neighbouring house to see a group industriously being tutored on a terrace:
The roof space has been divided up into different spaces for teaching.  Classes are held for various age groups.  Teaching takes place in the morning:

And late into the night:

The wheels of progress are greased by education.

But how much is really being learned?  How much of all of this is the 'Johnny, Johnny yes Papa' kind of teaching where bunches of students are made to repeat nonsense bits of information so that they can 'pass' their exams, and carry on into the next level of their 'studies.'

When I think of how blessed I have been with the amazing teachers that I was given all through my years of learning I want to cry.  Hats off to each one who gave me so much more than these kids are getting.  

But at the same time, hats off to the parents of these children who are at least trying with whatever they have available to see their kids live a better life than they did.

Would that the kids would learn something in the process though....

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